I went on a short outing to Green’s Creek in the east end of Ottawa, ON this afternoon. I didn’t see too many species. It was actually pretty cool out because the arctic air mass is still over us here in the Ottawa valley. It was threatening to rain on me so I didn’t do much exploring but just walked straight from Montreal Rd./St. Jospeph Blvd. to Tauvette St./Innes Rd. Along the way I didn’t see as many distractions as I would’ve liked. I keep hoping that there’ll be more warbler action in the area but so far haven’t seen much.
One of the first birds I saw was a Brown-headed Cowbird perched atop a dead tree. A Red-tailed Hawk was flying over and everyone was keeping an eye on it and a few American Goldfinches flew out to chase it as it passed. Later on down the trail I saw another hawk, a Broad-winged Hawk, and it flew low overhead. I didn’t get any photos as it happened really fast but the sky was too bright and cloudy for photos anyway.
The best bird I saw was a Tennessee Warbler that was hanging out with a couple Black-capped Chickadees. I managed to get a few shots of it when it was closest to me as it was working it’s way through the low bushes hunting and gleaning insects off the newly leaved branches. I had a couple opportunities to see the Tennesse Warbler below eye-level so I could see it’s brilliant green back but I was too slow to get any shots of that, but I tried!
Meeway for now, bye!
I went out birding today in the chilly windy weather hoping to find warblers grounded and easy to find low down near the ground. I got quite a few different species but I missed getting photos of a bunch of the birds that I saw today. I missed getting photos of Baltimore Oriole, Ovenbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Winter Wren, Red-eyed Vireo and Magnolia Warbler twice! Imagine all the birds that I came close to and missed seeing altogether. For the most part it was quiet today (bird-wise) but I came across a few mixed flocks of warblers and vireos travelling together. The first one I saw in McCarthy Woods East was by far the biggest and the best. The birds were moving along so fast though and I was so overwhelmed that I lost track of them all pretty quickly.
Below are labeled photos of the birds I saw at the different places I made it to today;
I went out this afternoon after it stopped raining hoping for a fallout of migrating songbirds. I wouldn’t exactly call what I saw a fallout but I wasn’t disappointed! There was a major influx of birds since yesterday, most notably Swainson Thrushes, many more Yellow-rumped Warblers and few other species of wood-warblers. Because it’s late and I’m planning on trying for a Big Day tomorrow on 14 May, International Migratory Bird Day I’m going to end off here and just post my photos from today.
When I got to Green’s Creek Conservation Area at around 4pm this afternoon one the first birds I saw was a huge female Peregrine Falcon circling and soaring overhead. I tried to take a few photos of her but I actually didn’t have a SD card in my camera at the time! This has happened to me more times than I can count, the problem is because I usually take out the card to insert into my computer’s card reader. Anyway, the first bird I took an actual photograph of that I saved to disk was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. A bright and fresh spring male was singing in a tree just to the side of the trail.
Further along the trail a few American Robins were flushed up ahead by a couple off-leash dogs (there are hundreds here btw). A few steps later I noticed a brownish bird hop from the trail ahead of me into a tangle. I used my binoculars and saw a thrush species with a rufous-brown nape or back of the head/neck. I could just see the folded wingtips and I noticed right away that they weren’t rufous-tinged or coloured at all and were brown compared to the nape. My first thought was, “It’s not a Hermit Thrush!” I tried to take a picture but I only had one chance and it didn’t turn out. The bird flew over the trail and into a shrub that I was able to see with an unobstructed view. When the bird flew I noticed that it’s back was redder than it’s wings. When it landed I could see that it’s underside was fairly clean (for a catharus thrush). All this put together = Veery!
Much of the Green’s Creek area and it’s “table lands” were once farmland and is now in various stages of succession. The ants have obviously been hard at work reclaiming and “decolonizing” or maybe it should be “recolonizing” although I bet they never left. I also really love the area’s of Green’s Creek that fall in the ravine and steep escarpment type categories. Because I assume these areas were not good for farming the trees were left alone for the most part and so there are old growth stands and the conifers in particular are jsut mind blowing. I’ve never seen any spruce that are as tall and as old anywhere else within the city of Ottawa besides the Dominion Arboretum but this is a more natural setting. I also noticed lots of wildflowers in various stages of growth. I saw two species of trillium, an invasive or exotic species of spruce and new to me species of flowering shrub, an American Fly Honeysuckle, that had the most eye catching little yellow flowers.
After work this afternoon at around 3pm I went to do some afternoon birding around Fletcher Wildlife Gardens and the Arboretum. There still aren’t tons of warblers around yet but there were still a few good ones. New and exciting birds today included Nashville Warblers, Black-throated Green Warbler, Palm Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo.
At the Arboretum there is a beautiful and huge Rhododendron shrub that caught my eye and I just had to go and check it out. I spent a few minutes admiring it and it’s flowers. It’s just about in full bloom and it’s pretty spectacular!
Lately I’ve also had a few great opportunities while at work. I work outside doing gardening and landscaping work so I get to listen and watch out for birds all day and I also get to travel to different areas of the city everyday and monitor different urban, suburban and almost rural habitats. I always have my binoculars and camera with me in my backpack just in case something amazing happens. Today at work in Merivale Gardens adjacent to the NCC Greenbelt area just south of the Nepean Sportsplex (where I work quite often, at least once a week) an American Redstart came flitting through the backyard this afternoon. This area (along Revol Rd.) is practically a guaranteed area to find, or at least hear, a Carolina Wren. Every time that I come to work here, this year and last, there is a wren singing loud nearby in the neighbourhood or in the forest behind the property.
On the 07th of May while working in Champlain Park across the river in Gatineau, Quebec a bright male Black-throated Green Warbler was singing in the mature forest nearby and eventually made it’s way into the front yard where I was working. I watched as it gleaned insects off the tree branches and even got treated to a front row seat to full blast version of it’s sweet song. All day I listened to a symphony of Black-throated Green Warblers, Brown Creepers and Chipping Sparrows that day.
Another really neat find on 07 May 2016 in Gatineau, QC was a Gray Tree Frog we noticed while trimming overhead branches on very tall mature trees. When we first noticed it it was perched on a fence but I had to move it out of the way of falling branches. Because I was in the middle of working (and with other people), I only took a few quick photos with my iPhone. It was amazing to see it’s suction-cupped toes and I also noticed it’s yellow patch on the back-inside of it’s thighs. I learned later that they are chamelion-like and can change colour to match their surroundings and blend in, amazing!
On the 05th of May in Grenfell Glen a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak dropped in while I was working and came to inspect me and my radio which I had tuned to CBC radio 2 that day. Birds seem to be intrugued or not at all bothered by either radio or me singing and humming along to music which kind of has been surprising me. Actually maybe that is why they’ve been coming in so close to me, to find out what on earth is going on.
I first noticed the Rose-breasted Grosbeak when it started singing in a tree right above my head. It somewhat sounds like an American Robin when it sings but it was it’s call notes that caught my attention and made me think, “Purple Finch, but that’s not quite it?!”
After work today I went for a walk through Hog’s Back Park to Vincent Massey Park. The weather was beautiful and warm and more and more species of birds are arriving every day. Today I got 4 species of warblers, one of which was a first for 2016, the Black-and-white Warbler. Another first for the year was a Broad-winged Hawk. I’m too tired to write anymore about my adventure tonight because I have to get up at the crack of dawn so I can go to work and be done early enough for me to go birding afterwards!
Today I was working in Gatineau, Quebec. Luckily I work outside so I get a few opportunities to see birds during the day. I usually keep my eye out while I’m working for good birds nearby and fortunately I have a few clients with amazing properties. One of these places is in Gatineau near Aylmer not too far from the Ottawa River. It has a forested ravine adjacent to the property and it’s a magnet for birds and travel corridor for migrants as well. Today while working I heard a Pine Warbler singing in some tall Pines and Cedars above me. It didn’t take long for the bird to make it’s way closer and eventually came to investigate me, I was making a racket and humming along with my music too. It came in so close that I couldn’t even focus on it a couple of times.
It even started singing for me right out in the open which was great! I usually only get to see fleeting glimpses of them high up in the canopy of towering White Pine trees.
This property is so great for birds, I’ve been coming here for 3 years now. I’ve seen everything from toads and salamanders to coyotes and Wild Turkeys, not to mention all the species of warblers passing through in the spring. House Wrens nest in a birdhouse attached to the wall of the house and I’m pretty sure American Redstart nest in the ravine somewhere.
Yesterday while working at this location I had an opportunity to photograph Ruby-crowned Kinglets and I managed to get a couple nice shots. I got one shot of a male singing in a Eastern Cedar tree as well.
To top off a good day at work (yesterday 29 April 2016) when I got home I heard the distinctive song of a Carolina Wren ringing through the neighbourhood. I went looking for it but couldn’t spot it at first but it didn’t take long before I had good views of it out in the open. The Carolina Wren was singing again this evening at around 6pm, 30 April 2016.
A brief video clip of the Peregrine Falcon pair’s soaring courtship flight. The male (smaller one) was carrying a recent kill likely to present to the female to demonstrate his fitness. Seeing the size difference between the sexes was neat.
Birds and wildflowers. I started at Linton Park and walked along the trail that goes to McCarthy Woods East. Along the way I noticed that the plants have really started sprouting up. Below is what I believe is an Achillea species, the tall golden-yellow flowered ones.
Where the trail crosses the train tracks it comes to a spot where you have to cross a stream. It is actually fairly deep in spots and runs all summer. I noticed that the plants that grow in the water are sprouting new stalks already.
When I got to the train tracks I heard the familiar calls and the song of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. At first I saw two of them near the tracks, working the thickets and treetops. A little further up I saw a Wild Turkey crossing the tracks so I walked over to see if I could find it again. When I got to where the turkey was I heard more kinglets. More and more kept moving around in the trees and catching my eye. I was surprised that I counted up to 36 Ruby-crowned Kinglets before I lost count and track of them all. This might have been the most I have ever seen in one small area before. They were all travelling together and were for the most part a solid flock of Ruby-crowned Kinglets. There were two or three Black-capped Chickadees around with them but not a single Golden-crowned Kinglet to be seen anywhere. They seem to have moved further north and we’re onto the next wave.
As I was mesmerised by the kinglet show I was distracted by a familiar Icterid call. It wasn’t the song of Red-winged Blackbird or a Common Grackle though. It was very loud and coming from a treetop not too far off. They were Rusty Blackbirds and there were 5 of them! This was my first of the year (FOY) sighting for Rusty Blackbird.
After that I kept walking and crossed McCarthy Road and entered McCarthy Woods West. I saw an article in the Metro newspaper yesterday on Thursday, 21 April 2016 about the Trillium bloom that takes place in the forest every spring. When I got there I saw a carpet of wildflowers, mostly Trout Lily and Trillium but I also was able to find a few other species of plants in the forest that are growing and about to bloom as well. Today I learned about a new plant called Blue Cohosh, thanks to someone on the Ottawa Field Naturalist’s Club’s (OFNC) Facebook page who helped me identify it. It is a purplish plant that is coming into bloom and I managed to photograph one that is flowering. I saw under 10 Trout Lily that were just about to flower, some of which I photographed. I saw a handful of Trillium at about the same stage. While I was admiring all the new growth of the wildflowers I heard the chip of a Yellow-rumped Warbler overhead. High up the canopy I saw a single warbler flitting from branch to branch. I can’t wait for the flood of warblers over the coming weeks but I only wish it would last longer.
I also noticed a species of grass that is also coming into “bloom.” I considered that it might be a type of sedge but the stem didn’t appear to be three-sided (I’m sure if I’m remembering that ID feature correctly). It looked very neat up close. If someone helps me identify this species than I will post an update but for now it is an unknown.
I also noticed a couple different types of mosses that were very bright green.
In an area I will call McCarthy Woods West (Interior) there is a nice big moss-covered rock and it is the second area of old growth or mature trees that you encounter when coming from the east. In this area I noticed another plant that I thought I recognised as Bleeding Heart. It turns out it is a wildflower called Dutchman’s Breeches.
Further west in the area bordering what I call “McCarthy Alvar” I came across a few more species of birds. Here I saw Northern Flickers, Hairy Woodpecker, Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow, Hermit Thrush and White-throated Sparrows. There were at least 12 White-throated Sparrows scratching around in the leaf litter that I encountered but none of them posed nicely for the camera. I noted that, this time, they were mostly tan-striped individuals (2:1).
I also encountered 2 Hermit Thrushes moving along together. Although one came fairly close to me as it was passing by I wasn’t able to get a clear shot of it through the brush. I may have had a few opportunities but it was on the move and wouldn’t sit still for more than a few seconds. Along the trail before I got to Hunt Club Road where I took a bus home I photographed another member of the Thrush family, the American Robin. I also saw another species of plant, more of a field-open area type of plant but I have no idea what it is at this time.